Michigan corridor meeting set


The Michigan Street Corridor may be getting an extensive — and expensive — facelift.

The city of Grand Rapids is proposing a $1.65 million upgrade to Michigan Street between Monroe and Ionia avenues, and concrete repairs between Ionia and Barclay Avenues.

Concepts for the proposed plan will be unveiled at a meeting Thursday, when the city also is seeking public feedback.

The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Grand Rapids Development Center, 1120 Monroe Ave. NW.

“This corridor is huge for not only the city but the region,” said Suzanne Schulz, city planning director. “When we have major regional employers like Spectrum and educational institutions here, we know this corridor has to work and it has to work for everyone. So all users need to be accommodated.”

The proposed changes are in line with the Michigan Street Corridor plan, which was approved by city commissioners in March. They came up as part of the city’s protocol when taking on a road construction project.

Whenever such a project is undertaken, the city examines potential improvements to the road design that are then often folded into the project.

Funding for the project would be drawn from several different pools. About $703,000 will be used from the Vital Streets Capital Fund, $677,000 from the State Urban Transportation Program and $275,000 in State Transportation Economic Development Funds.

The concrete work would begin this year, while resurfacing is set for this fall or next spring. Traffic on the Medical Mile will be impacted by both projects.

In addition to resurfacing the asphalt between Ionia and Monroe and the concrete repairs from Ionia to Barclay, the project also would remove a pair of lanes on the south side of Michigan Avenue.

The westbound lane that connects Ionia and Ottawa avenues would be taken out, as would the bus lane between Bostwick and Barclay.

Schulz said the change should quell one of the biggest complaints from the public: straightening out the alignment of the travel and turn lanes on Michigan Avenue.

“We want to hear about what’s working and what’s not, and that’s been the biggest one,” Schulz said.

Other projects included in the proposed plan are:

  • Upgrading sidewalks and ramps to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Installing green infrastructure such as street trees, meridian islands and infiltration basins designed to soak storm water into the ground to filter out pollutants and reduce runoff.
  • Installing pedestrian islands to create a shorter crossing distance.

Schulz said these proposed changes have been “modeled to death” and noted the important impact they could have on changing the preferred modes of transportation on the heavily trafficked road, where more than 90 percent of the cars are single-occupant vehicles, she added.

“It’s like putting a whole big puzzle together,” Schulz said. “People might not understand the full picture, but we need to have a 40 percent mode shift toward public transportation.

“The better we can do that, the more economic development we can facilitate on this corridor — and if we fail, it will be much more difficult to get around.”

The city is encouraging the public to participate in Thursday’s meeting; the proposed concepts are not final, and citizen feedback could help determine the final design, she said.

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